A beadwork tablecloth with bird and floral motifs

This beadwork tablecloth from Penang is one of the largest and most important pieces of Peranakan beadwork in existence. This piece has an interesting composition of motifs, consisting of a variety of birds, insects and flowers in full bloom. The motifs are oriented such that the tablecloth can be viewed from all four sides. Motifs in many pieces of Penang beadwork bear some resemblance to earlier Chinese embroidery in terms of colour and composition, as well as some resemblance to European bird and floral motifs of the same period. This tablecloth with its auspicious colours and motifs, was most likely used on a ‘choon tok’ or ‘spring table’ in the wedding chamber.